Since its inception in 2012, the series Debates on Europe has been hosted in places where the idea of Europe is at stake. In international discussion forums organized in cooperation with local actors – mainly in eastern and south-eastern Europe – it addresses the most pressing issues on the European agenda. By supporting civil society in places where this is still emerging or under pressure it furthers free and open debate on cultural, social and political issues.
Gathering leading writers, scholars, experts and representatives from politics and civil society, the Debates on Europe aim to contribute to the exchange of arguments and experiences between East and West. They comprise public debates as well as internal sessions, and personal meetings beyond the official programme are regarded just as important as the deliberations taking place in panel discussions and round-table talks.
“What do we talk about when we talk about Europe?” asked the Belgrade Debate on Europe in 2014. The answer to that question differs depending on whether it comes from within or from without the European Union – or even between different parts of the EU. That insight is at the core of all Debates on Europe.
S. Fischer Foundation
The S. Fischer Foundation was founded in 2003 as a private foundation of German publisher Monika Schoeller. The choice of its patron, Samuel Fischer, is based on its mission: the foundation is dedicated to international cultural exchange, especially in terms of literature, and to promoting the humanist spirit of authors such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Sigmund Freud, Henrik Ibsen, Franz Kafka or Thomas Mann.
As part of the exchange, the S. Fischer Foundation has since 2003 been supporting translators and translations of contemporary German literature in Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Hungary, Poland and Turkey. In 2008 in a private-public partnership it initiated TRADUKI, a European network for literature and books, which involves Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Switzerland (www.traduki.eu).
In addition, the S. Fischer Foundation looks after endowments of a number of authors and of photographer Leonore Mau. Together with the German Literature Archive Marbach, the Foundation funds literary and cultural historical research projects.
German Academy for Language and Literature
The German Academy for Language and Literature (Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung) emerged out of a multi-year discussion process in the literary world after WWII. It was founded in 1949 as a place for open debate after the years of dictatorship and since 1951 it has its seat in Darmstadt. The Academy’s members, around 190 in total, include renowned writers, critics, and translators as well as linguists and literary scholars, but also jurists and scientists.
Apart from granting prizes and awards the Academy closely follows the development of the German language and literature and plays an active role in discussions on literary, linguistic and cultural topics in cooperation with other European academies of literature and related institutions in Germany. In recent years, the Academy has been explicitly committed to an idea of Europe “that lives from the spirit of openness and the spirit of debate: the spirit of the open debate in an open society”.
The Academy’s work is financed by institutional organisations – the Federal Republic of Germany, the community of German states via their combined cultural foundation, the Kulturstiftung der Länder, the Federal State of Hesse and the city of Darmstadt – as well as private sponsors.
In the years 2012–2018 Debates on Europe were organised in partnership with the Allianz Cultural Foundation.